Tag Archives: Big Bang

The Fallacy of “Supernatural”

Mehran Banaei

How many times have neo-atheists like Lawrence Krauss vociferously stated: “We [the scientists] don’t believe in any supernatural shenanigans?” In an attempt to refute the notion of the First Cause, Krauss ubiquitously refers to the Big Bang Originator as a “supernatural shenanigan”, hoping to convince his audience that it is science which leads to disbelief in a caused universe.

Krauss is not the only atheist scientist who appeals to gimmicks to score his point. Like Richard Dawkins, he claims not to believe in “supernatural shenanigans” because he is a man of science. I suppose a man with a hidden agenda has no choice but to appeal to deceitful tricks, when he tries to promote an unscientific personal opinion disguised as a research based academic exposition. Indeed, it boggles the mind as to why would a scientist, if he were truly objective, inordinately adopt unscientific language to brag about what he does not believe?

The term “supernatural”, particularly when paired with “shenanigans” unconsciously conjures up the image of a mystical fairytale, magic or superstition. Whatever is labeled “supernatural”, connotes it being a relic of the past, an outdated pre-scientific thinking, sitting right next to the paranormal. A “supernatural being” sounds like a fictitious mythological character that does not exist, i.e. Zeus, Vishnu or Superman. By using such a term the neo-atheists are trying to make their opponents look like idiots before even the debate begins. Krauss is trying to shape the reader’s attitudes towards what caused the universe before he even presents his case, by implying that belief in “God” for lack of a better word is stupid, and the one who adopts such a belief is at the zenith of stupidity.

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An example of genuine supernatural shenanigan: the claim that one can levitate by meditation. Belief in the First Cause is put in the same category and then debunked by erroneous association.

Psychologically, people have a great aversion to being branded with terms that have a negative import. No one would wish to be stigmatized as having an antiquated belief. No one wants to have a negative title bestowed upon one, especially when it is often closely associated with some outlooks which indeed are primitive, superstitious, irrational or fanatical. This insidious attempt is deliberately used to disadvantage the other side at the very outset, by placing a negative label on them. This is nothing short of straw man labelization.

The strategy implies that whoever adopts a belief in “supernatural” is dogmatic. However, this type of stigmatization in essence, is a typical textbook case of cheap ad hominem attack and name calling, devoid of any substantiative arguments.

But, is the Entity which caused the universe supernatural? It all depends on the definition and our point of reference. Nothing is universally natural across the board. For instance, is it natural to be able to fly? For reptiles is not, for birds it certainly is. Is it natural to swim under water? For fish it is, for the cockroach it is not. Is it natural, to be uncaused, to be immortal outside of time and space dimensions, and not to have a face or physical body? For earthy beings it is not, but for the Big Bang Originator, the Creator of time and space it is. Who said that the Creator of the laws of physics must be subject to the laws of physics, and ought to be empirically verifiable? In fact, the Creator of the laws physics cannot be subject to them. That should be perfectly obvious to anyone with a modicum of logic. The Creator and creation cannot be of the same essence, not even close. One must be totally different than the other! How absurd to determine what is natural, unnatural or supernatural from a reductionistic self-centered point of view. Krauss ignores the limits of conceptualization of human understanding, and acts like he knows it all. For him what is universally natural, is what he perceives to be natural, anything outside of the limited realm of human perception is considered unnatural; therefore anything of such a unique attribute is categorized as nonsense. However, I guess revealing all of that information to the readers would have undercut Krauss’ attempt to dogmatize monotheistic theism.

Furthermore, note how Krauss subtly uses his academic status and the like-minded scientists to bolster the claim that God does not exist, even though the existence or non-existence of God falls completely outside the jurisdiction of science, the way modern scientists define science. This is a fallacy known as “Appeal to Authority” – we are supposed to believe the proposition just because someone who is supposedly an expert says so. However, it is Krauss the atheist, not Krauss the physicist who is stating his own opinion, and his personal opinion on God carries no more weight than the opinion of a hairstylist. Just as cutting hair in a barbershop does not lead to atheism, likewise working in a science lab does not lead to atheism. Surely, the opinion of another scientist could be diametrically at odds with his. Therefore, the appropriate thing for Kruss to say is that “We the atheists don’t believe in any supernatural shenanigans”, to which a thoughtful theist could rightly reply: Big Deal! We, who acknowledge the universe is caused, don’t believe in any supernatural shenanigans either.

But why should we be listening to Krauss? Do we know if he is trustworthy? Is he stating a fact, or merely his own slanted atheistic opinion? Indeed, why would a truly objective scientist assume that the universe is causeless, and degrade the theistic position as a “supernatural shenanigans”? If one is truly a man of science, then he does not need to appeal to these kind of cheap tricks. Atheists repeatedly use these tricks because they know well it is effective. The inappropriate usage of the term supernatural is now frequently picked up by the believers themselves to describe their faith.

If Krauss says that we the scientists don’t believe in the Uncaused cause, we believe that the universe is self-created, he would then have a hard time defending his position without looking dim-witted. For one, he is in no position to speak for all scientists. Prominent scientists, past and present like Isaac Newton, and all the Muslim scientists of the Golden Age who introduced science and scientific investigations to the Europeans, emphatically believed in the Uncaused cause. They openly believed in the existence of a Grand Designer.

Does Krauss the scientist believe in a rudimentary deductive logic and a priori reasoning? He should if he is truly objective. We now know that the universe had a beginning. Time, space, matter and energy suddenly came into existence from oblivious nonexistence. An Entity, call it God or what have you, must have triggered the creation of the universe. This God far from being “supernatural” the way it is suggested, is the Necessary Being, which is impossible not to exist. By Its nature, such a Being ought to be uncaused, singular, intelligent and powerful. His “Godly” nature is natural for what this Being is – as natural as water being wet.

What Krauss does not wish to acknowledge is that the alternative so-called “scientific” theories posed to refute the Uncaused cause seem more shenaniganic than any pre-historic religious dogma. For example, the multiverse theory operating on unguided automated natural selection, Dawkins’ postulation that complex organisms in nature are not designed, but have the illusion of design. Or Stephen Hawking’s assertion of chance hypothesis that the creation of the universe was “the ultimate free lunch”. All these are implausible loopy theories nicely packaged as scientific facts. The truth is the atheist scientists indeed believe in the ultimate supernatural shenanigan, they believe that out of “Nowhere”, for no reason, “Nothing” caused a massive explosion. Out of this explosion, everything somehow arranged itself in an orderly fashion, and then without any purpose a complex interrelated self-supporting web of life with an astonishing degree of diversity spontaneously came into existence. I suppose, atheist apologists feel they can believe and promote sheer nonsense, if it is labeled “science”.

Neo-atheists have hijacked science, turned it into a right-wing industry for manipulating public opinion, rather than appealing to objective rational judgments, and the sincere and noble pursuit of the truth. The industry’s whole aim is to market a peculiar Godless religion in order to make a fast buck. These atheist evangelists have made a lucrative career ironically revolving around the “nonsense” of what they themselves purport they could not have cared less about.

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Naturalism: A Fishy Perspective on Causality

Mehran Banaei

There is a famous Persian proverb about a curious little fish who confronted his father with a burning question: “Dad, what is this thing called water?” The young fish asked inquisitively. His father helplessly replied, “Son, I heard about it too, but to tell you the truth, I have absolutely no idea, no one has ever encountered water.”

The intended message behind this proverb is that while any question may seem valid to pose, one ought to be equipped with sufficient brainpower to comprehend the answer. Reality has to be accessible to the observer’s intellect and conceptualization is the key to understanding. While our brain can absorb many things, it certainly cannot conceptualize and absorb everything, simply because it does not have the capacity to comprehend the nature of all that exists.

One of the most frequent questions posed by atheists is that, if everything has a beginning and cause, then who caused the First Cause; that is to say where did the Originator of the Big Bang come from, and who created Him.

As a theist, I find this ubiquitous reductionistic approach unworthy of analysis, merely fitting for tabloids and gossip magazines. The question posed is irrelevant and totally unnecessary to put forth. For one, the Creator’s “personal life” does not really interest me, nor do I think I am equipped with enough cognitive capacity to understand His infinite uncaused nature. For mortal beings like us, trapped in a finite universe of cause and effect, it may seem difficult to envision that there could be an uncaused cause outside time and space dimensions who is not bounded by the laws of cause and effect. However, what I can easily grasp which matters most, is that I am here, did not need to be here, was not here at one point, and will not be here further down in time. While I am busy to make sense of my own existence, I have no interest to dwell on the nature of the First Cause, the Uncaused Cause. Deductive logic and inductive extrapolative evidence sufficiently attest to existence of an intelligent conscious Being outside of this universe; indeed, without Him the universe could not have existed. What is known to our intellect is enough to establish His existence; thus what do we need to know His “biography” for, which is inaccessible to our cognitive apparatus?

Atheists believe that nothing exists beyond the natural world. They make an incorrect assumption that outside of this caused universe, there could not be an Uncaused Entity, and that the Causer of the universe must also be caused, subject to His own laws. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that the First Cause of the universe was caused by a bigger cause than Himself, if so, then who caused the “First Cause”, and so on. This erroneous approach would obviously lead to an infinite regression and unsettled conclusion, thus dismissible at the outset, yet it is continuously brought up by likes of Richard Dawkins. These atheists fail to understand that the cause of the universe cannot be within this universe, subject of the very laws of physics within the universe. That which creates cause and effect cannot be the subject of cause and effect. That which creates time and space cannot be the subject of time and space. That which creates time must be timeless. That which is timeless and eternal must be Uncaused.

It is now well established that the universe and time have had a beginning some 14 billion years ago. In discussing the origin of this created universe, what becomes inescapable is that causality has to be attributed to something, i.e. to mythological gods, a cosmic luck, blind processes of cosmic natural selection, a self-created universe aimlessly fashioned out of nothing, extraterrestrial more advanced than us, or to A Singular Uncaused Cause. It is our task to explore all explanations and determine which explanation is rational and makes more sense.

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By way of analogy, while fish do not have the capacity to deductively or inductively comprehend the existence of water, the existence of fish alone is a sufficient proof for the existence of water, whether the fish comprehends water and its dependence on it, or blatantly denies the existence of water. Yet atheists feel content with attributing the existence of 28,000 different stunning species of fish, each playing a role in the intricate balance of ecosystem to a keeper of an aquarium. The keeper being natural selection, laws of physics, mindlessness, etc. without articulating where did they come from. Thereby, blatantly committing the notorious fallacy of passing the buck.

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The Arrogance of Atheism-of-the-Gaps: When the only certainty is uncertainty

Mehran Banaei

A glance at the history of science can provide a good insight to its short-lived dominant positions with respect to every scientific discipline. Sometimes the paradigm shifts were gradual; sometimes the new ideas were revolutionary and spread exponentially like wildfire, having concomitant effect on every other branch of natural and social sciences.

For instance, in cosmology throughout the centuries the scientific position moved from Aristotelian celestial motion to Ptolemaic system. The Ptolemaic geocentric model was then replaced by the Copernican Heliocentric universe, a revolutionary idea which lasted until Johanne Kepler and Isaac Newton arrived at the scene. Subsequently, the Newtonian world was superseded by the general relativity theory of Einstein. Then came the era of the static universe of Fred Hoyle which later was demolished by the Big Bang expanding universe. The Big Bang universe is now facing a few new challengers: the Multiverse Theory, String Theory, Parallel Universes, M Theory, the 11th dimensions, etc. Every time we think that we finally unveiled the secrets of the universe, we soon after come to realize that no we did not.

astron25Needless to say human knowledge in every discipline is not static, but dynamic. We understand the universe better every time we discover something new and should never feel obligated to be loyal to mistaken ideas. This is how human knowledge truly grows. Nevertheless, while self-correction of science is commendable, the arrogance and ostentatious attitude displayed by many scientists today is not. Many scientists have adopted a mind-set that they are the elite, that they know better than everyone else, that they alone can lead and we ought to follow them. Yet the perplexing question is: In this atmosphere of dominant ideas constantly being labeled as obsolete, where scientific theories merely go in and out of fashion, how did the arrogant mind-set that science knows it all develop among many scientists? The often-skipped question is, when science is unable to obtain certainty in the scientific dominion, how could it so boldly proclaim certainty in non-scientific dominion, particularly by the scientists who use scientific “certitude” to bash any ideology that allows the notion of the First Cause at its core.

If the question, who speaks for God is justified, likewise the similar question who really speaks for science is equally valid and must be addressed.

At the turn of the 20th century, it was Sigmund Freud who came with a pretentious aristocratic attitude and a sense of superiority that his bizarre ideas on human psychology are scientific and superior to every other competing theory. He supposedly used “science” to validate psychoanalysis. Using this new school of thought he subsequently tried to refute everything he disliked in psychology, sociology, anthropology and theology. Yet, it did not take very long for his psychoanalysis to be dumped in the trashcan of discarded ideas. After all, there was nothing scientific about his methodology of arriving at ideas such as “Penis Envy”, “Oedipus Complex”, interpretation of dreams or other bold claims he made in his popular books: “The Future of an Illusion”, “Civilization and its Discontents” and “Totem and Taboo”. It was Karl Popper who argued that psychoanalysis is a pseudoscience based on faith, since its claims are neither testable nor can they be falsified. Today, psychology textbooks refer to Freud, the atheist who once dominated the field of psychology just as an average Joe among many figures in the history of psychology.

From 1920s to 1960s, it was the era of logical positivism; a radical tradition asserting that all metaphysical and subjective a posteriori arguments not based on observable data are meaningless. Truth can only be determined by repeatable experimentation. The notion of the First Cause is not subject to empirical experimentation; therefore, as such God cannot exist. Hence, science rules. Everything else is of no value. The logical positivists never took a moment to reflect on their self-refuting proposal, which was not based on science, but based on a non-scientific philosophical outlook, thus having no value.

A century after Freud, comes Richard Dawkins, a new Johnny the snake-oil salesman. Dawkins a biologist with an annoying habit of getting of out biology lab to use science as a pillar of atheism in order to refute issues in philosophy, theology, morality and sociology. Teamed with group of like-minded atheist academics like Lawrence Krauss, Dawkins et al define what science is and is not. They all speak as scientists but then repeatedly get into the realm of non-science, mostly religion and the existence or non-existence of “God”. Using the premises adopted by logical positivism, they claim that the standard of proof in science is solely based on evidence not “faith” or ones opinion, however, just like Freud their supposedly scientific belief is nothing short of their own opinion far away from any evidence i.e. random mutation, the Multiverse theory.

MathCartoons1Using Darwinian evolution as the weapon of choice, these materialists make grand claims completely outside the territory of science. Any question that they are paralyzed to clarify is considered as “silly question”. They add that the issues which science today has no explanation for i.e. the origin of life could someday be adequately explained. These scientists think they are authorized to write rain-checks on behalf of science, and expect us to value their promissory notes given their abysmal credit history. Let’s say that someday science may come up with an explanation of ideas that are unexplainable today: Does this not sound like the atheism-of-the-gaps, and is it any different than the much ridiculed God-of-the-gaps?

Today atheist scientists claim with certainty that time and space, matter and energy are created out of nothing without any external agent, then sustainably evolved by blind processes with no intelligent guidence to create complex life with stunning precision and order that defies comprehension. They claim with outmost certainty that God the Creator does not exist. Yet it is puzzling as to, how can they be so certain about their theological claim when they are unable to achieve certainty in their own scientific field?

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How can anyone arrive at certainty in the proposed world of infinite universes with infinite possibilities on how life was created out of non-life, where the laws of physics and biology are arbitrary and randomly surface out of nowhere, in the universe that is created out of nothing, where anything that can happen does happen? In this world any possible explanation is just as good as another. Adhered explanation is a matter of preference; that is to say the explanation that “God” created the universe is thus no different than “nothing” created the universe. The God-of-the-gaps is as viable as the atheism-of-the-gaps.

My contention is not at all with science, but with arrogant scientists and their unsubstantiated claims; it is not with evolution but with the extremely improbable Darwinian dice. Some scientists today are so eager to have their name inducted in science Hall of Fame next to likes of Galileo, Newton, Darwin that they completely forget the goals and objectives of science. These scientists should learn to be humble and stop pushing unproven ideas; otherwise like Freud they too will end up being the future inductees of science Hall of Shame.

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From Big Bang to Big Crunch

Mehran Banaei and Nadeem Haque

From Big Bang to Big Crunch

From the emerging dawn of human civilization, Man has always reflected on the origin of the universe. He has marvelled at the beauty and the order manifested in it. Like an earnest child asking inquisitively why the canopy of the sky has the hue of blue, mankind, in general, has always sought answers to such seemingly perplexing questions, having to do with the origins and destiny of the whole of existence. In a state of deep yearning, he stares at a starry sky and wonders: where does this universe start, where does it end? Does it have an actual edge, and if so what lies beyond it? He wonders: why does nature behave the way it does? As he contemplates, he sees the pattern of birth and death in the animate as well as in the inanimate world. In addition, he knows that his own body is not immune from this scheme either. But, what about this universe as a whole? Did this vast universe have a beginning in time, and if so would it ever finally come to an end?

With the progression of scientific knowledge in this century, we have been able to gain a better understanding of the immensity of the cosmos. We have become privileged witnesses to the beginning of creation. It is now well established that space is rapidly expanding as all the countless galaxies, which are sprinkled in the stretching fabric of space are receding from each other at tremendous velocities approaching that of the speed of light. This would mean that once, the entire universe had been a single dimensionless point where there was absolutely no space and absolutely no time, for these were originated in a flashing instant when that singular point exploded to form space and time. For beings like us, who have always been engulfed within the dimensions of space and time, it is indeed difficult to visually conceptualize that somehow space and time were simultaneously brought into existence from oblivious non-existence.

Further knowledge confirmed this astonishingly unique event, when it was detected on a radiowave antenna that a constant background radiation permeates the whole of space. This background noise was no doubt the primeval remnant of that explosion which took place less than 15 billion years ago, commonly referred to as the Big Bang — the singular moment in the creation of the totality of the universe.

But from this explosive expansion it was not disorder which resulted, but rather a deep penetrating order. Unlike any explosion that results in destruction, this explosion resulted in construction, of an imaginable scale –- the universe. Through the course of time, as the universe cooled, many structures arose: galaxies were formed that were comprised of immensely dense clusters of stars, flowing relentlessly across a vast cosmic ocean of space. In time, planets formed and subtle processes came into effect which allowed the emergence of life on earth. Subsequently, biological life developed due to the vital presence of the water-cycle and similar processes, producing a great diversity of plants and animals. Without water, there would have been no life springing from the dry earth. Remarkable balances between the living and non-living components of our planet allowed for the preservation, sustenance and continuation of life. The nurturing rays of the sun provided growth for life. Plants started to give off oxygen, which was necessary for all breathing beings, and animals returned carbon-dioxide which was necessary for the plants. Furthermore, each animal arose to be specialized and functioned to maintain the balances in nature. Without these processes life would not have been possible.

By reflecting on the interpenetrations of origins and destiny, we may fully appreciate that so many are the celestial bodies that permeate space that they remain countless within its ever-expanding horizon. Yet even within this cosmologically stretching fabric, strewn with innumerable galaxies, we have not, thus far, conclusively been able to empirically determine the existence of any other ecosystems and extraterrestrial life.

It was with the advent of these biological processes on earth, that there came a time when the most complex organism arose: the human being. Yet in essence, a human being, within his own lifetime, issues from the very processes inherent within the vastness of cosmic order. Human life begins with conception, and then, in just nine months, a nearly microscopic fertilized egg-cell is transformed through a truly remarkable process into a human infant, possessing heart, brain, eyes, muscles, lungs, and all the biological systems needed for survival outside the mother’s womb. It is indeed amazing to envisage that in the combination of such a tiny, minuscule part of drop of male semen and a female egg there exist specific parts responsible for the development of our complex body, mind and social being. In just a few years after birth, this newborn baby has grown into a human being well capable of learning a multitude of languages, of familiarizing himself with his environment, and has the capacity to be creative, learning to interact with others of his own kind and other species.

As this human being is maturing and aging, the process of intellectual development and questioning continues actively, and as a sense-making creature he ponders on his origins and about his place in the universe. He becomes aware of the fact that the omnipresent face of death is an inescapable consequence of life. He also becomes aware of the rapidity with which the dead body deteriorates, when in time, it will be turned into nothing but a pile of rotting bones, and then face a further reduction from bones to dust — dust to dust … under the dust to lie. This appears to be our common heritage and unavoidably our common destiny, the transition of man from birth to death, the journey of mankind from noble extraction to a hopefully noble extinction. He came from nothing and, finally, will merge back into nothingness, for in nature, just as things began, so too will they end. He knows that he is residing on this earth for only a short while and once he is departed, shall return no more. Thus, he curiously looks up at the starlit sky, seeking to know if there is anything beyond his death.

Just as our sun had its own birth billions of years ago, so too is it eventually destined to extinguish itself into a shrunken, collapsed dead star and with it our earth will be rendered devoid of life, where once it had been so profuse. Life on earth is crucially dependent on the sun; indeed, had the earth’s orbit been even slightly offset in either direction, water and the resulting forms of life would not have emerged. Yet, our sun is only one tiny speck of light amidst an ordered scattering of billions upon billions of objects distributed throughout the vast reaches of space in time, which are all experiencing the same patterns of birth and death in the cosmos.

But will the universe, which had its birth with the emergence of space and time, also have its fate sealed with the end of space and time? It is now well established that depending on the density of the universe, it will either fade away into an infinite void as the stars disintegrate into a sea of obsolete radiation, or conversely, it will collapse into a Big Crunch as it reaches the limits of its expansion. In the Big Crunch, the overwhelming density of matter and energy would have the effect of contracting the universe back into one singular point due to immense gravitational forces. Nevertheless, whatever the outcome is, it appears certain that the universe will end up either in the emptiness of space, where time will not be significant, or in the nothingness of absolutely no space and time, just as it was in the beginning. This is not obscure fantasy nor is it far-fetched science-fiction. It is derived from facts and scientific knowledge, even though it is not visually conceptualizable that space and time will simply vanish into the Nothingness of Nowhere.

We have seen that this universe has originated from the non-existence of space and time. The emergence of life into the intelligent consciousness of man has been facilitated and is dependent on the unfolding of time by precisely arranged, intelligently structured laws of nature. We have also seen that the universe will eventually devolve into a realm of nothingness. But why did it originate in the first place? And then why should it disappear again? From nothing to something and then from something to nothing with no meaningful purpose and no purposeful end? Is this a cosmic joke? Is this all there is?

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